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Tuesday, May 11, 2004


Fewer untying the knot

Custody of dependents

For the first time in 2002, fewer than half of children of divorced parents were placed solely in the care of their mother.

Of the 35,000 dependents for whom custody was determined through divorce proceedings, sole custody of 49.5% was awarded to the wife.

Fathers won sole custody of 8.5%. Joint custody was awarded in the remainder.

Custody of dependents, the vast majority of whom are children aged 18 and under, was granted through court proceedings in about three out of every 10 divorces in both 2001 and 2002.

Fewer Canadian couples are getting divorced, and those who do are untying the knot at a much later age.

After three consecutive years of growth, the number of divorces has declined for two years in a row. In 2002, a total of 70,155 couples had a divorce finalized, down 1.3% from 2001 and 1.4% from 2000.

The number of divorces is now 11.2% below the most recent high of about 79,000 in 1992, and 27.1% below the all-time peak of about 96,000 in 1987.

A downward trend was also seen in marriages throughout the 1990s. Although the number of marriages rose in 1999 and 2000, the number of couples who got married in Canada in 2001 declined sharply.

The most recent declines in the number of divorces occurred despite increases in the population. As a result, the crude divorce rate fell 3.2% between 2000 and 2002.

The number of divorces fell in nine provinces and territories between 2000 and 2002, particularly in New Brunswick, where the decline was 14.9%, and in Saskatchewan, where it was 10.7%. Divorces were up in Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario and the Yukon.

Divorcing at later age

Each year for the last 17 years, men and women have been getting divorced at a later age.

Since 1986, the average age at divorce has increased by 4.1 years for men and by 4.2 years for women. In 2002, the average age at divorce was 43.1 for men and 40.5 for women.

Marriage data over the last few decades have shown increases in the average age when men and women are getting married. Men who divorced in 2002 had on average married at the age of 28.9, while women had on average married at the age of 26.3.

Between 1986 and 2002, the average age of marriage for individuals who divorced rose by 2.9 years for both men and women.

For more information, contact Patricia Tully (613-951-1759), Health Statistics Division.

  2000 2001 2002 2000 to 2002
  number % change
Canada 71,144 71,110 70,155 -1.4
Newfoundland and Labrador 913 755 842 -7.8
Prince Edward Island 272 246 258 -5.1
Nova Scotia 2,054 1,945 1,990 -3.1
New Brunswick 1,717 1,570 1,461 -14.9
Quebec 17,054 17,094 16,499 -3.3
Ontario 26,148 26,516 26,170 0.1
Manitoba 2,430 2,480 2,396 -1.4
Saskatchewan 2,194 1,955 1,959 -10.7
Alberta 8,176 8,252 8,291 1.4
British Columbia 10,017 10,115 10,125 1.1
Yukon 68 91 90 32.4
Northwest Territories 94 83 68 -27.7
Nunavut 7 8 6 -14.3

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See also  
First few years riskiest
THE DAILY – Divorces

© 2004, Statistics Canada.